Reward Offered After Cherokee County Man's Pet Elk Is Shot

Thursday, October 3rd 2013, 6:51 pm
By: Craig Day

There's a reward to find whoever shot a young elk that's part of a family's private collection of exotic animals.

It happened in Cherokee County, just a few miles from the Fort Gibson Lake dam.

Heartless, reckless, and meanness--those are the words the owner of a collection of exotic animals has to say about someone who intentionally shot one of those animals. He's hopeful someone comes forward with information that leads to an arrest.

Skull Valley Safari is a private collection of exotic animals owned by Doug Diebold and his family.

"We've just got a lot of pets is what we have here," Diebold said.

It started a few years back with a miniature donkey, and has now grown to 40 animals--from buffalo and a camel, to longhorn steers and even a zebra.

Diebold was shocked when someone shot one of those pets.

"Who would do that? That's just meanness, it's just being mean," he said.

A 3-month-old bull elk named "Tank" was shot with a high powered rifle, breaking its leg.

"That's just an innocent animal that wouldn't hurt a fly," Diebold said.

Diebold thinks the shot must have been fired by someone from the highway, either late Sunday or early Monday.

"Just to recklessly drive by and shoot that animal, you've got to be a very mean, vindictive person to do something like that," Diebold said.

They're trying to nurse Tank back to health, but aren't optimistic he'll survive. Diebold said he doesn't understand why someone would do it, especially to a defenseless animal, just a few months old.

"None of it makes sense to me, I can't wrap my mind around any of it," Diebold said.

For now, they're giving Tank at least a chance for survival. But Diebold won't let him be in pain for long, so he may have to end up euthanizing Tank.

"Sick to your stomach, you know," he said.

Diebold is offering a reward, and other business owners in Muskogee have added to it to help to hold whoever fired that shot responsible.

The reward being offered in this case is now up to about $3,000. The number to call is 918-683-4455, if anyone has information that could help.